This free six-step study guide will help you learn the basics of Tarot reading, and give you a good start on your way to becoming an accomplished reader. Work at your own pace! Every lesson includes a Tarot exercise for you to work on before moving ahead. If you've ever thought you might like to learn the Tarot but didn't know how to get started, this study guide is designed for you!
As occult interest in the Tarot expanded, it became more associated with the Kabbalah and the secrets of hermetic mysticism. By the end of the Victorian era, occultism and spiritualism had become popular pastimes for bored upper class families. It wasn’t uncommon to attend a house party and find a séance taking place, or someone reading palms or tea leaves in the corner.
The word tarot is derived from the Italian word tarocchi, which has no known etymology. There are many theories regarding its origin. It may be derived from the name of an Italian river, the Taro. Or perhaps it is of Arabic origin, as playing cards originated in the Middle East, becoming common in Europe by the year 1377 C.E. 18th century occultists claimed the name Tarot came from the conjunction of two Egyptian words meaning “royal road,” which indicated that the tarot was the path to wisdom.
In 1785 C.E., the French occultist Eteilla (Jean-Baptiste Alliette) became the first professional tarot diviner. He popularized the use of the tarot as a divinatory tool to a wide audience, and was the first to develop and publish a set of correspondences, linking the cards to astrology, the four classical elements (earth, fire, water, air), and the four humors (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm). These correspondences are still useful today.
The British direct-voice medium Frederick Tansley Munnings was exposed as a fraud when one of his séance sitters turned the lights on which revealed him to be holding a trumpet by means of a telescopic extension piece and using an angle piece to change the auditory effect of his voice. Richard Hodgson held six sittings with the medium Rosina Thompson and came to the conclusion she was a fraud as he discovered Thompson had access to documents and information about her séance sitters.